Fermi 2 Nuclear Power Plant

Client Profile:

Client: DTE Energy

Energy – Nuclear Power


Monroe, Michigan


1122 Megawatts



Fermi 2 Nuclear Power Plant

From 1988 to 1996, a declining trend in personnel performance at Fermi-2 was documented in numerous Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reports, Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) evaluations, and internal and external audits and assessments. Prior efforts by plant management failed to identify and correct the reasons for the decline.

The actions taken by the leadership team to mitigate problems were usually viewed as punitive and often ineffective in resolving problems that resulted from inadequate processes, procedures and leadership. As deregulation was becoming a reality, the need for change was more important than ever.


Gain Alignment of Senior Management

With an understanding that the single most visible factor for successful cultural change is leadership at the top, 17 key leadership positions at Fermi-2 were filled with personnel who possessed a new philosophy. The significance of this change cannot be overstated. The new team brought a fresh approach to leadership style, primarily an understanding of the significance of employee engagement and empowerment. With the new team in place, a series of management team development sessions were held to gain clear direction, alignment and commitment to improving plant performance through strategic culture change.

Architect a Change Strategy

Once it became clear that an overall change strategy was needed to successfully move the plant toward higher levels of sustained performance, a group of senior leaders and middle managers were brought together to architect a change strategy and develop an implementation plan to address the needs of the plant and its key stakeholders.

Build Leadership Capacity for Change

With the change strategy in place, a three-year campaign was launched, focusing on the organization’s most important asset – its people. Numerous foundation-building training and leadership development workshops were implemented to build leadership capacity at all levels of the management hierarchy. The result was a group of leaders committed to producing useful change at the plant.

Build Employee Capacity for Change

Coinciding with building leadership capacity, capacity-building sessions were developed for all employees. Not only did these sessions assist employees in letting go of the past, they helped people make the personal changes needed for the plant to be successful.

At the conclusion of the capacity-building workshops, a Visioning Conference was held that involved two-thirds of all site personnel. The purpose of the conference was to catalyze the change process by clearly articulating what the organization’s transformation process would look like with the assistance of employees directly affected. It was at this juncture that the significance of the foundation building became crucial in moving the organization forward. Throughout the conference employees, not management, developed an organizational vision statement, as well as core values and strategic initiatives. Ten strategic initiative teams were formed using volunteers at all levels of the organization to focus on areas for performance improvement. The only role of management was to sponsor the team’s activities, provide resources and help eliminate barriers.

Develop a Network of Change Agents

To sustain the momentum for change and equip the plant with the resources needed to continuously improve performance, a change agent network was formed with employees at all levels of the organization.  Employees within the network received training and education that enabled them to successfully lead performance improvement at the plant.


As a result of these initiatives, numerous improvements to plant performance were noted across the site.

  • The capacity factor has increased from  62.3 to 93 percent.
  • Plant production costs have dropped by 51 percent.
  • Forced outage rates have dropped from 25.6 to 1.2 percent

In addition, all departments on site now operate under a five-year strategic plan directly linked to the company’s objectives through their department-specific business plans.